Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities

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Changes to the Background Check Process

The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 sought to make child care safer by ensuring that the adults working with or in proximity to children have not committed violent crimes, child abuse, or sexual offenses. The new federal laws require Wisconsin to establish and manage a system of background checks that will apply to all regulated child care providers. DCF currently conducts background checks on all applicants for a child care license and any household members.

Beginning in fall 2018, the following changes will begin to be implemented for all regulated child care programs:

  • Certified Providers - DCF will assume responsibility for conducting background checks and making eligibility determinations for new certification applications and new individuals (prospective household members/employees) beginning on or after 10/1/18.
  • Licensed Providers - DCF will conduct checks on all employees who will begin working in a school-operated license exempt or a licensed child care center on or after 10/1/2018. 

For more information on how the changes in the background check system will affect your program, please see the appropriate section below.

Licensed Providers

Once the new process is implemented, requests will be made through the Child Care Provider Portal under the center’s access. The person requesting the check will be given instructions to follow to submit a fingerprint scan through FieldPrint. The results of the scan will be sent directly to the Caregiver Background Unit (CBU), which will review the findings and make a preliminary eligibility finding. If the individual is determined to be eligible based on the background check, the person may begin residing or working at the child care program under supervision until all the results have been reviewed and a final eligibility determination has been made.

An individual denied eligibility will be provided with information on how to appeal the eligibility determination.

The cost of the fingerprint-based background check will be $37.75 at the time the appointment to collect the fingerprints for the fingerprint-based background check.

Centers will continue to do annual name-based check on current employees. At some point in the future, DCF will notify programs when DCF will begin taking over the background checks on existing employees. The process for adding a person as a household member or for applicants/licensees will remain the same as it currently is.

DCF has prepared a Background Check Requirements Presentation to provide more detail on the upcoming process.

The following is a list of potential questions and answers regarding the new process.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who conducts background checks?

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) conducts background checks for applicants, licensees, household members, and employees of a child care center. In some instances, DCF may conduct a background check on minor household members.

Who is subject to the background check requirements?

Applicants, licensees (including board presidents), adult household members and caregivers are subject to a FBI fingerprint background check. Volunteers may be required to complete a background check if they are used in meeting staff/child ratios or have direct contact with and unsupervised access to children in care.

In addition to individuals providing care and supervision to children, all employees and contractors working in regulated child care settings are also subject to background checks.

Minor household members age 10-17 are subject to checks with Child Protective Services (CPS) and Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN). In some instances, minors may be subject to a criminal background check.

Is a BID form required?

The BID form has been replaced with the digital Background Check Request (BCR) form (DCF-F-5296) and is required for individuals age 10 and older. Providers submit a BCR for themselves and others through the Child Care Provider Portal (CCPP). The digital form must be submitted initially and reviewed at the time the five-year fingerprint check is due.

What is reviewed for a background check and how often are background checks conducted?

Initially and every five years, a fingerprint-based FBI check is conducted for all individuals subject to a background check. In addition, DCF checks these databases:

  • National Crime Information Center (NCIC)
  • National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR)
  • Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) criminal history database
  • Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN) records
  • Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry (SOR)
  • Professional licenses maintained by the Department of Safety and Professional Services
  • Consolidated Court Automation Programs (CCAP)
  • Wisconsin’s Caregiver Registry
  • Previous regulatory and program integrity history
  • Name-based search of the following in each state where the individual has resided in the past five years:
    • State criminal repository
    • State child abuse and neglect
    • State sex offender registry search
  • A criminal history search annually after the initial FBI check
  • Individuals who reside out of the state of Wisconsin are required to have an FBI check every year

An annual named-based check encompasses a review of:

  • Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) criminal history database
  • Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN) records
  • Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry (SOR)
  • Professional licenses maintained by the Department of Safety and Professional Services
  • Consolidated Court Automation Programs (CCAP)
  • Wisconsin’s Caregiver Registry
  • WI DOJ Criminal History Database• 

My employees previously completed fingerprint checks. Are they required to complete them again through DCF?

The one-time Wisconsin Shares fingerprint check conducted by licensees for their employees does not meet the new federal requirements. All existing employees will be subject to the new background check requirements, even if they had a fingerprint check done in the past. DCF will conduct new FBI checks on existing employees beginning in 2019. DCF will send fingerprinting instructions to licensees and employees as we phase in background checks on existing employees.

Will the DCF send new instructions for completing fingerprint-based checks?

Yes. DCF will send new instructions to applicants, licensees (including board presidents), household members and center employees for completing a fingerprint-based background check. The instructions will include a Fieldprint code and a unique Reference ID that is to be used only for the individual named in the letter. If an individual schedules a Fieldprint appointment using another individual’s Reference ID or enters an incorrect Reference ID, the background check cannot be processed, delaying the initial eligibility determination needed to begin working or residing in the center.

Note: The following Fieldprint codes are invalid as of 9/30/18 and cannot be used to schedule fingerprint appointments:  FPWIDCFHHMember and FPWIChildCareEmployee.

Programs should add, inactive and update individuals through the Child Care Provider Portal (CCPP).

How long will it take for a background check to be completed?

A background check begins once DCF receives the fingerprint check results. Within five to seven business days, DCF issues a preliminary eligibility determination based on a review of the criminal history for barred convictions. Individuals may not begin working or residing at a child care center until they receive preliminary eligibility. New employees may begin working with preliminary eligibility, but must be under supervision until they receive final eligibility.

In most cases, DCF provides the final eligibility determination within 45 days. At times, the final eligibility determination may take longer, such as when out-of-state records are needed. Once DCF determines the final eligibility, it will send separate notices to the program and individual. Final approval means the individuals can work or reside in a child care without supervision.

What does it mean to work under supervision?

Supervision shall include, at a minimum, periodic direct observation by an individual with a DCF-approved background check. The intent is that the person is supervised during the time they have access to children.

Does every new employee need a new initial background check?

DCF conducts initial checks on all prospective and current employees. Individuals who previously had a DCF-approved FBI fingerprint background check within the last five years do not need a new initial check if they have a gap in child care employment less than 180 days.

What offenses make an individual ineligible?

Offenses barring individuals from holding a license to operate, residing at or working in a licensed child care program can be found in the Barred Offenses Table.

What are the fees for background checks?

FBI fingerprint-based checks cost $30 with an additional Fieldprint collection fee $7.75. If the individual schedules a fingerprint appointment at a Fieldprint location that does not capture the prints digitally, additional fees may be charged for inked-rolled prints.

Annual name-based Wisconsin DOJ checks cost $10.

Why do I need access to the Child Care Provider Portal?

In addition to accessing Wisconsin Shares information, programs can use the Child Care Provider Portal (CCPP) to request background checks and view results electronically. Requesting background checks through the automated portal process can reduce the time it takes to initiate and receive background check results.

For more information on how to gain access, visit the Child Care Provider Portal information page.

Prospective Employee/Provider in Licensed Child Care

DCF will conduct background checks on all employees who will begin working in a licensed program(s) on or after October 1, 2018.

The following is a list of potential questions and answers regarding the new process for prospective child care workers.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who needs a background check?

  • All applicants for a license.
  • All persons age 10 and above who reside in a licensed child care program.
  • All employees in a child care program... persons providing care and supervision; persons who do not have contact with children, but are employees of the center; and individuals contracted to provide services to a child care center including persons employed by a transportation service to transport children.
  • Contractors who provide occasional services such as a plumber, electrician, delivery person are not required to have a background check, but they may not have unsupervised access to children.

Can a person begin working before the background check is completed?

  • An individual must have been found to be eligible to work before the person can begin working in a child care center. The first level of eligibility will be preliminary eligibility which is determined by a DCF review of the fingerprint-based background check reports.
  • Additional records will be checked before a final eligibility determination can be made.
  • The individual or a program may check the status of a person's background check through the provider portal. It is expected that preliminary eligibility should be determined within seven (7) days after the fingerprint scan has been submitted to the Department of Justice.

What records are checked as part of the background check?

  • These are the components that make up a background check:
    • At the time of the first background check and then every five (5) years thereafter, a FBI fingerprint-based check.
    • Annually (in years when a fingerprint check is not done) a name-based Wisconsin Dept. of Justice check.
    • Every five (5) years a check of the National Sex Offender Registry, and annually, a check of the Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry.
    • A check of child abuse and neglect records.
    • A check of records from another state(s), if the individual is living or has lived outside of Wisconsin in the past five (5) years.

What is the difference between preliminary and final eligibility determination?

  • Preliminary eligibility is determined when the results of the fingerprint-based background check are received by DCF and reviewed to determine if there are any serious crimes or offenses that would limit a person's ability to reside or work in a child care program.
  • Final eligibility is determined when the results of all components of a background check have been reviewed, including any information received if the individual lived outside of Wisconsin within the last five (5) years.

How long will it take to get a preliminary eligibility determination?

  • A fingerprint scan collected at a Fieldprint location will be submitted to the DOJ immediately with results returned to DCF usually within 48-72 hours.
  • Once the results of the fingerprint scan are received by DCF, DCF will review the FBI/DOJ results and determine preliminary eligibility.
  • Preliminary determinations should be available on the provider portal within seven (7) days after the fingerprint scan has been completed with the final determination completed within 45 days (barring unforeseen circumstances).

Is it possible that a person's eligibility may change?

  • It is possible that a person's eligibility to reside or work in a child care program may change based on information received.
  • Preliminary eligibility is determined based on a review of the following items:
    • Records maintained by the FBI (initially and every five (5) years thereafter)
    • Records maintained by the WI Dept. of Justice (annually)
    • Records reported by the WI Dept. of Health Services (annually)
  • Final eligibility is determined based on a review of additional information obtained, including...
    • A review of the National Sex Offender Registry (initially and every five (5) years thereafter)
    • A review of the Wisconsin Sex Offender Registry (annually)
    • A review of child abuse and neglect findings (annually)
    • A review of information obtained if the individual resided outside of Wisconsin within the last five (5) years

Will a person be able to appeal an eligibility determination?

  • If the review of a person's background check results in a determination that the person is not eligible to reside or work in a child care program, the person will be informed of the right to appeal the eligibility determinations.
  • During the appeal process, the person is not eligible to reside or work in the child care program.

Who decides whether an applicant may work at a center?

  • The background check eligibility determination made by DCF is based solely on the results of a background check. A person must be eligible to work based on a background check prior to the center making a hiring decision.
  • The center determines whether a person meets the center requirements for hiring. These requirements will include a DCF determination that the person is eligible for hiring based on the background check.  Other considerations by the center could be the result of a reference check, determining whether the person has the necessary qualifications, and anything else the center requires.

Where can I go with questions?

  • The DCF Caregiver Background Unit currently processes background checks for licensees, household members, and minor employees and can provide information on the new process. Contact the CBU at 608-422-7400 or DCFPlicBECRCBU@wisconsin.gov
  • View the DCF website on Background Checks for information on the new process as well as information on the current process

Certified Providers

DCF will begin conducting background checks and making eligibility determinations for new and prospective certification applications received on or after October 1, 2018, and for any new individuals (prospective household members/employees/caregivers) added to an existing program on or after October 1, 2018. The Department will begin conducting background checks for existing operators/HHMs/caregivers in Summer 2019.

The following is a list of potential questions and answers regarding the new background check process for certified child care providers.

Frequently Asked Questions

When did the requirements and process for conducting background checks change?

New Applications/Individuals: DCF began conducting background checks and making eligibility determinations for NEW certification applications received on or after 10/1/18 and for any new individuals (prospective household members/employees) added to an existing program on or after 10/1/18.

*Existing Operators and HHMs: The department will begin conducting background checks for existing operators, HHMs and employees in 2019.

Who is subject to the background check requirements?

Applicants, operators, adult HHMs and caregivers are subject to a complete background check. Volunteers in certified child care are required to have a background check only if they meet the definition of caregiver, have direct contact with and unsupervised access to children. Additionally, all employees and contractors working in regulated child care settings will be subject to background check requirements, regardless of whether or not the individual provides care and supervision of children. (Example of contracted service would include someone who provides contracted transportation services.) See Role Chart at end of this document for additional examples.

Minors age 10-17 are subject to CPS check, and in some instances, minors may be subject to a criminal background check.

Is a BID form still required?

The BID form has been replaced with a Background Check Request (BCR) form and is required for individuals age 10 and older. Providers may submit the required form for themselves and others using the Child Care Provider Portal or they may submit the paper form to the certification agency.

What are the required components of a background check?

  • Wisconsin criminal history DOJ search which includes the DHS IBIS check
  • Wisconsin CAN Registry or CPS search
  • Name and address search of the Wisconsin SOR
  • Fingerprint-based FBI search for all individuals subject to background check requirements, which includes a search of the NCIC SOR
  • A name-based search of the following in each state in which the individual has resided in the past five years: state criminal repository, state sex offender registry, and state CAN registry

How long will it take for a background check to be completed?

A background check begins once the fingerprint check results are received by DCF. The background check results usually arrive electronically at DCF within 48 to 72 hours after the digital fingerprints have been submitted to DOJ. DCF will review the results and issue a preliminary eligibility determination within 5-7 days. Preliminary eligibility will be based on a review of the criminal history for convictions that would bar a person. An applicant cannot be certified until all of the background checks are completed and a final eligibility determination has been made. A new prospective household member or new prospective caregiver may not begin residing or working in the program until preliminary eligibility is determined.  The new individual would need to work under the supervision of an eligible individual (someone who has received a final eligibility determination) until final eligibility is determined.

In most cases a final eligibility determination will be made within 45 days. At times, the final eligibility determination may take longer. Once a final eligibility determination is made, DCF will inform the operator and individual whether the individual is eligible to continue residing or working in a program.

What does it mean to work under supervision?

Supervision shall include, at a minimum, periodic direct observation by an individual with a DCF-approved background check. The intent is that the person is supervised during the time they have access to children.

Will the background check process take longer if an individual has lived out-of-state?

Out-of-state checks may take longer to complete. If an individual has resided in another state within the last 5 years or currently resides out-of-state, a name-based search of the following in each state in which the individual has resided must be completed: state criminal repository, state SOR, state CAN registry. States vary in their requirements for requesting background checks so the applicant/operator and/or individual should watch their mail for additional authorization forms that may need to be completed and submitted to DCF in order to complete these out of state background checks.

I completed a fingerprint check previously. Am I required to do it again?

The one-time Wisconsin Shares fingerprint check conducted by local certification agencies does not meet the new federal background check requirements. All existing certified operators/providers and adult household members will be subject to the new background check requirements, even if they completed a fingerprint-based check in the past to meet Wisconsin Shares requirements. DCF will begin conducting checks on existing operators in 2019. Certified operators and other individuals associated with the certified program will receive notice and instructions for fingerprinting from the department. DCF is expecting to conduct background checks for all individuals working or residing in certified child care settings by October 1, 2020.

Note: The Fieldprint Code FPWICertification, used by certified child care programs previously to conduct fingerprint checks, will be invalid after 9/30/18.

What is the frequency of background checks?

  • Fingerprint-based FBI search, including NCIC SOR, for all individuals subject to background checks initially and every 5 years
  • A criminal history search annually after the initial FBI check
  • Wisconsin CPS/CAN Registry initially
  • Name and address search of the Wisconsin SOR initially
  • A name-based search of the following in each state in which the individual has resided in the past five years: state criminal repository, state sex offender registry, state CAN registry and annual OOS fingerprint-based check if the individual continues to reside out-of-state.

What are the requirements for a Fingerprint-Based Background Check?

The requirement for a fingerprint-based FBI check applies to all regulated child care programs, not just those eligible to receive Wisconsin Shares. A fingerprint-based check is required initially and every 5 years for the operator, adult HHMs, adult caregivers and non-caregiver employees. Fieldprint will be the required method for fingerprint-based background check for collection of prints digitally and if using ink cards.

Which agency is responsible for conducting Background Checks?

DCF CBU conducts all background checks for applicants, operators, HHMs, caregiver employees, and non-caregiver employees in certified child care programs. DCF CBU conducts investigations and collects documents pertaining to barred offenses or potentially substantially related offenses, including criminal complaints, arrest, court, and probation and parole records, if applicable.

Which agency is responsible for making Background Check Eligibility Determinations?

DCF CBU reviews background check results and makes background check eligibility determinations in accordance with the revised caregiver law s. 48.686. This includes determinations based on barred offenses and potentially substantially related determinations. Certification agencies are responsible for issuing enforcements related to DCF 202, Administrative Code. .

Which agency provides notice of Background Check Eligibility?

DCF will provide notice to the applicant/operator, individual/subject of the search and will also provide notice to the certification agency regarding an individual’s eligibility background check determination.

What offenses make an individual ineligible?

Offenses barring individuals from holding a license to operate, residing at or working in a certified child care program can be found in the Barred Offenses Table.

Is the DCF ineligibility determination appealable?

Preliminary and final determinations are made and issued in writing by DCF. A final eligibility notice will include information about the indivdual’s right to appeal. The preliminary determination is not appealable. Only the individual who is the subject of the department’s background check may appeal the department’s final determination. The subject has 60 days to appeal the determination with DCF.

Will the certification agency be notified if an individual appeals DCF’s final ineligible determination?

Yes. The department will communicate with local certification agencies through the agency’s WISCCRS Dashboard. The department’s CBU will communicate to certification agencies any determinations made at each point in the background check approval process and if an individual appeals the department’s final determination. Certification workers will need to log into WISCCRS regularly to check their Dashboard message inbox.

What are the fees for background checks and to what agency must they be submitted?

Initial Fingerprint-based Checks
At the time the Fieldprint fingerprint scan appointment is made online, the individual will pay $37.75 via credit card or electronic check. This covers the cost of the Fieldprint fingerprint capture fee ($7.75) and the cost of the FBI and DOJ fingerprint-based background check ($30). Certification agencies are no longer billed by DOJ for background checks and DOJ will no longer collect background check fees from operators/applicants. The individual scheduling the Fieldprint appointment online must be prepared to pay the background check fee. If the individual schedules a fingerprint appointment at a Fieldprint location that does not capture the prints digitally, additional fees may be charged for inked-rolled prints.

Annual* WI DOJ Name-based Checks
The background check is conducted by DCF CBU and operators will be invoiced annually for name-based checks conducted by DCF. The cost of name-based checks is currently $10 for each individual.

Which agency is responsible for conducting Rehabilitation Reviews, if required?

The Department conducts rehabilitation reviews for counties/tribes/subcontracted agencies in accordance with s. 48.686 (5c)(a). Tribes may choose to conduct rehabilitation reviews or refer the subject to DCF for the review. Tribes choosing to conduct rehabilitation reviews shall submit to the department a rehabilitation review plan that addresses specific DCF requirements.

 

Role Chart - Certification Applicants/Operators

The table below is not an exhaustive list of roles in certified child care, but is meant to provide examples and additional clarification regarding who is subject to the initial and 5-year FBI check and the annual DOJ background check.

Role FBI
(Initial & 5 Year)
Annual
DOJ Check
Applicant/Operator Yes Yes
Adult Household Member Yes Yes
Minor Household Member (unless concern warrants criminal check) No No
Substitute Yes Yes
Caregiver Employees (providers/assistants/directors/lead teachers) Yes Yes
Emergency Back-up Provider No No
Contracted transportation service/van driver who provides regular transportation to/from child care program (contracted by the operator), but who is not a caregiver Yes No
Periodic parent volunteer assisting operator during special events/field-trips No No
Housecleaner (contractor) who provides cleaning services at the home during hours of operation, but who is not a caregiver Yes No
Housecleaner (contractor) providing cleaning services after hours of operation No No
Birth to Three or other therapists who provide services to a child in the child care program, but who are not employees of or contracted by the operator No No

 

Higher Education Entities

DCF will conduct background checks and make eligibility determinations on all prospective practicum students who will begin working in a licensed or certified child care center on or after October 1, 2018. Below are links to a memo and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) providing information about these changes as it pertains to practicum students.

Higher Education and Background Checks Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Memo 2018-19 - Higher Education Entities and Background Check Updates Memo

Child Care Contractors

DCF will conduct background checks and make eligibility determinations on all prospective employees, including contracted employees, who will begin working in a licensed or certified child care center on or after October 1, 2018. Below are links to a memo and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) providing information about these changes as it pertains to contracted employees.

Child Care Contractors and Background Checks Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Memo 2018-18 - Child Care Center Contractors and Background Check Updates Memo

Scheduling a Fieldprint Scan Appointment

Read the instructions regarding how to schedule a Fieldprint scan appointment.

Child Care Background Check Computer-Based Training

Background Check Checklists

Use these handy checklists to ensure that you follow all of the required background check steps.